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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SNED, v.2, n.2 Also snedd, snade, snid, sneed. [snɛd]

I. v. A. Forms: inf. and pr. t. as above; pr.p. and vbl.n. sned(d)ing; pa. t. weak sned (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 207), sneddit (Ib.), sneded; strong snode (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 266); pa. p. weak sned, sneddit, snedded; strong ¶snedden (Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah lii. 1), snode (Wilson).

B. Usages: 1. To chop, to lop off (a branch of a tree), specif. to prune (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor Gl.). Gen.Sc., also in n.Eng. dial.; in forestry: to trim the side-branches flush with the trunk of a tree after it has been felled (Sc. 1962 Sc. Forestry 231). Also fig. Derivs.: snedder, one who prunes or trims trees (Sc. 1825 Jam.); sneddin, pruning, in pl. prunings, the twigs or parts of branches removed (Bwk. a.1760 Trans. E. Lth. Antiq. Soc. VII. 15; Sc. 1808 Jam.). Combs. snading-ax, snedding-knife, a pruning-axe or -knife.Edb. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 367:
A jock the leg sueding [sic] knyfe.
Sc. 1712 J. Monro 50 Religious Letters (1722) 54:
A pruning, snedding and digging about our Roots.
Ags. c.1725 D. H. Edwards Muirside (1920) 278:
The snading ax & pruning knife.
Ags. 1750 Session Rec. Arbirlot MS. (21 Nov.):
For the sniddings of the trees of the churchyard after what was allowed to the men for snidding them £2: 17s.
Per. 1778 A. Wight Husbandry II. 60:
The bodies of the trees making the stakes, and the sneddings the faggots.
Rxb. 1824 Rymour Club Misc. (1912) II. 48:
Whenever ye're sent to the country your lane, Come na back like a rung that is sneddit.
Hdg. 1848 A. Somerville Autobiog. Working Man 100:
Those who sneded the branches from the trunks.
Fif. 1873 J. Wood Ceres Races 85:
[He] would use his garden snedding-knife.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road iii.:
A snedded stick of oak.
Mry. 1953 Abd. Press and Jnl. (21 July):
Woodcutters and snedders Wanted.
Rxb. 1955 Abd. Univ. Review (Aut.) 142:
A rumpit stock, my branches snedded.
Uls. 1987 Sam Hanna Bell Across the Narrow Sea 25:
'Take tent o' this, ye gillravager. Foot the road ye came and ne'er look back. Away wi' ye, or as God's my judge, I'll sned the head from your shoulders!'
Sc. 1998 Scotsman 14 Dec 6:
But they undertook the work, proving they were as hardy as men. Training camps were set up to teach the women how to hold an axe, lay-in, fell, sned and cross-cut the timber.
Uls. 2003 Belfast News Letter 27 Sep 40:
Wi holly tae sned an puddins tae boil Ahm badly fashed fer hits tha near Christmas. Dis onieboadie ken tha Ulster Scots fer 'Bah Humbug'?

2. To cut off the tops (and roots) of turnips, thistles, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Inv. 1904 E.D.D.). Gen. (exc.I.) Sc. Also fig. Deriv. and comb.: snedder, a heavy-backed knife for topping and tailing turnips (Arg. 1937); sned-kail, “colworts or cabbages, the old stalks of which, after they have begun to sprout, are cut off and left in the ground for future product. The cutting is supposed to prevent their going to seed” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.).Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Haggis vii.:
Legs an' arms, an' heads will sned Like taps o' thrissle.
Ags. 1831 Perthshire Advert. (27 Jan.):
I's sned aff their heads as clean and fest, as ere I did burr thrisels.
Wgt. 1885 Trans. Highl. Soc. 115:
The turnips are carefully “sned” and carted into small heaps.
Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 82:
C'wa', Daith, again, sned Life's vain shoot.
m.Sc. 1927 John Buchan Witch Wood 247:
Daft Gibbie, too, had become a partisan ... 'Sned them, sir,' he would cry, 'sned them like thristles.'
Uls. 1953 Traynor:
Snedding turnips in winter is many a time sair work.
Gall. 1955 Gall. Gazette (8 Oct.) 10:
Agricultural worker for potato lifting, threshing mills, turnip sneding, etc.

3. In gen.: to cut off, to trim (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1920; Mry. 1925; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson; ne. and m.Sc. 1971). Also fig. Ppl.adj. sned, of a sheep-mark: having a piece cut aslant from the top of the ear (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Ayr. 1789 Burns To Dr. Blacklock vi.:
I'll sned besoms, thraw saugh woodies.
Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 44:
You Factor-folks get business credit, But let oor rents be three days auld, Ye'll quately tak' the law an' sned it.
w.Sc. 1887 Jam.:
Birk besoms; heather besoms; sned an' onsned!
Abd. 1898 J. Milne Poems 37:
Wi' meath an' measure in His wrath, He'd sned their feet upon their path!
Kcb. 1901 R. D. Trotter Gall. Gossip 167:
As if ye had sneddit them aff wi a gully.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 11:
Ane o' his airms sneddit by the shoother.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's ii. 11:
The wicked 'll be sneddit clean aff.
Uls. 1953 Traynor:
I'll sned the hand off you.
Dundee 2000 Matthew Fitt But n Ben A-Go-Go 41:
His een follaed the strecht line o Mermaid tae Lauder, a braid thoroughfare that sned the Parish physically an socially in hauf.

4. To emasculate (Sc. 1808 Jam.).

5. To hew or polish stones with a chisel (Sc. 1825 Jam.).

II. n. A cut, a cutting; a slash, a slight wound; a lopping or pruning (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; n. and em.Sc., Lnk., Wgt. 1971); transf. in humorous sense, a hair-cut (Ib.); a branch pruned off (Lnk. 1825 Jam.; ‡Ayr. 1930). Comb. sned-end, the cut-end, the point at which something is cut short.Per. 1802 S. Kerr Poems 1:
Let's tumble [King George] out o' his station And a' the chiels o' his creation, Gie them a snedd.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 79:
A sned o' the knife brings them back tae guid rule.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xix. 4:
Their airt has gaen furth owre the hail yirth; and their words till the sned-end o' the warld.
Bte. 1922 J. Sillars McBrides xxii.:
Bryde will have a sned from a hanger.

[O.Sc. sned, cut, pa.p., 1513, to lop, a.1572, snedding, 1565, snedding knife, 1638, O.E. snǣdan, to prune, trim, with shortening of vowel from pa.t. snǣdde. For Sh. usage under v., 3. cf. Faer. sneiða, to cut a sheep's ear as a mark of ownership.]

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"Sned v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Dec 2023 <>



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